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Winter recreation safety tips for outdoor adventurers

Thin ice

As many people start venturing outside for the holiday break, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to consider seasonal safety tips before enjoying their favorite winter activities.

"People often get caught up in the excitement of the moment and overlook general winter safety," said Lt. Tom Wanless, with the DNR Law Enforcement Division's Recreational Safety, Enforcement and Safety Section. "We want to send out a beginning of the season reminder to please keep safety in mind this winter. Dress for the weather, check the forecast before you go out and, if you're snowmobiling, please ride sober and at a safe speed."

Regardless of your favorite winter activity, prepare before you leave the house by checking, dressing and packing for the weather. That means:

  • Wear light layers that can easily be added or removed - it is possible to overheat even during the winter.
  • Carry the appropriate equipment for your activity, such as a flashlight, rope, ice picks or ice claws.
  • Have spare equipment available in case something breaks.
  • Stay hydrated and fueled - bring water and snacks.
  • Bring a buddy.
  • Inform others about where you will be and how long you plan to be gone and schedule check-in times.
  • Carry a two-way communication device that receives service in remote areas.
  • Be aware of your health - if you're not feeling well, don't go out.

In Michigan, all snowmobile operators between ages 12 and 16 are required to obtain a Michigan-approved snowmobile safety certificate to operate without a legal guardian or to cross a highway or street. Earn your snowmobile safety certificate or purchase a trail permit online at

The DNR's Ride Right snowmobile safety campaign emphasizes the importance of riding sober, at a safe speed and on the right side of the trail. Speed is the main factor in fatal and serious injury snowmobile accidents. There were 12 fatal accidents during the 2020-21 snowmobile season.

If you plan to plan to be around ice, always use extreme caution, as there is no reliable way to test ice thickness.

For more ice safety tips, including what to do if you fall through the ice, go to

Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Ice: When on or near ice, always use extreme caution because there is no reliable way to test ice thickness. For more safety tips, including what to do if you fall through the ice, go to

Contact: Cpl. Mike Hearn,